What we have been hearing from so many of our customers is: why is NY/NJ so bad? Sure, Los Angeles and Long Beach are expected to be busy, congested, but why the turmoil in NJ? Like LAX/LGB you have a confluence of factors.
As of most recently, the weather has played a major role in setting back operations both for the ports and for us truckers. Not only was there the infamous snowstorm a week ago that left port operations sidelined for approximately four days, but there were significant wind gusts that battered and slowed down operations before hand.
In addition, the aftermath of the snowstorm left a significant amount of snow accumulation on containers both at the port and at our yard. This took a very very long time to clear because we cannot take containers over the road with snow on top of them. Driver and warehouse labor were used to clear the snow from the tops of the containers and many of our drivers put ladders up to their containers and stood on top of the boxes and swept the snow off. This caused significant driver and delivery delays.
Lack of Productivity
The steady flow of inbound containers forced port operators to open on weekends. Maher Terminal, for example, had to open Saturday and Sunday just to clear their yard. Our local drivers, who conventionally were able to turn three to five containers per day, were now limited to only one to two turns per day. On a number of occasions, we have had drivers at Global Terminal and PNCT for seven to eight hours pulling one container! This lack of productivity becomes a domino effect, affecting our entire daily operations.
Let us take a quick look at some concrete numbers handled by the NY/NJ Ports compared to 2019:
- September: 19% increase, 59,000 TEUs (vs 2019)
- October: 19% increase, 64,000 TEUs
- November: 27% increase, 80,000 TEUs
- December: 25% increase, 70,000 TEUs
Can we just say…. WOW.
Lo and behold, the most significant violator was chassis. In recent weeks, the availability of chassis has improved.
However, we’re still playing catch up. Both the east and west coasts have been hit hard with the broken chassis model the US is currently experiencing. Similar to LAX/LGB, NY/NJ established a “gray pool” to increase interoperability between IEPs (Independent Equipment Providers). The two largest in NY/NJ are Trac Metro and DCLI. Our drivers had to shuttle from chassis pool to chassis pool, terminal to terminal, trying to source chassis.
Although we have a significant amount of our own chassis, we utilize the gray pool chassis to supplement our own. Unfortunately, the lack of available chassis wreaked havoc on our ability and our counterparts to operate efficiently.
The inability of many consignees to handle the influx of containers in a timely manner has tied up badly needed equipment and adding extra driver time to loads. They are unable to deliver directly from pier, and instead have to put containers in storage.
The “Digging Out” Climate
So, we have several factors that have contributed to the present “digging out” climate we are all finding ourselves in NY/NJ. One of our least favorites, but most truthful old adages is “time takes time.”
We will remove ourselves from this predicament in time. Being persistently patient is the key all the while operating with our embedded sense of Port X urgency.
Being proactive is your best bet. Get rolling with our team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org